Women’s tennis: Cats take down Cornhuskers, Hawkeyes in weekend road trip


Daily file photo by Lauren Duquette

Brooke Rischbieth connects with the ball. The senior and the Wildcats extended their unbeaten start to Big Ten play this weekend.

Sophie Mann, Digital Development and Recruitment Editor

Women’s Tennis

After a tough non-conference season, Northwestern was looking to assert its dominance in the Big Ten.

This weekend the Wildcats (9-8, 5-0 Big Ten) did just that, maintaining their perfect start to conference play.

In its first matchup, NU breezed past Nebraska (17-3, 4-2) 4-0. After dropping the doubles point in their match against Rutgers last weekend, the Cats had little trouble taking an early lead against the Cornhuskers.

First, junior Erin Larner and senior Brooke Rischbieth secured an easy 6-1 win at No. 2. Senior Jillian Rooney and sophomore Lee Or then sealed the doubles win for the Cats with a 6-2 win at No. 3.

“We’ve been mixing it up with the doubles,” Rischbieth said. “Erin and I played really well against Nebraska. Whoever we play doubles with we’re excited and we bring really good energy.”

Two-set singles wins for Larner, sophomore Rheeya Doshi and Rischbieth secured the victory for the visitors.

Coach Claire Pollard said not holding onto previous doubles struggles allowed NU to come out swinging this weekend.

“You have to have a short memory when things don’t go your way,” Pollard said. “Week to week things change a lot. Ultimately, the girls know that they have to come out and perform well. Doubles is just one part of that.”

After a day of rest, the Cats headed to Iowa City for a meetup with Iowa (13-5, 3-3) on Sunday, a team they haven’t lost to in more than a decade. That streak did not end this weekend.

Larner and Rischbieth clinched the doubles point for the team with a 6-2 victory after a 6-1 win by junior Maddie Lipp and Doshi.

The dominance continued in singles play, with NU winning five of six matches. Doshi and Larner repeated their strong performances from earlier in the weekend, and junior Alex Chatt, Rooney and Or joined them.

Even when competing against teams that have had easier non-conference seasons or worse conferences records, Doshi said treating all matches with equal importance helps the Cats rack up wins.

“We treat every match equally and all matches are important,” Doshi said. “Just working hard and giving it our best really helped the team as a whole.”

With the pair of wins added to its resume, NU maintains a three-way tie for first place in the conference with Ohio State and Michigan, No. 2 and No. 9 in the country, respectively.

Upcoming matches against Purdue and Indiana this weekend don’t pose much of a threat to the Cats’ Big Ten winning streak. The Boilermakers and the Hoosiers have sub-.500 Big Ten records, and both teams lost to the Cats last year.

The conference season may be easier, Pollard said, but that does not mean the team can be anything but on their game every single weekend.

“Every weekend from January all the way through May is an exciting opportunity,” Pollard said. “Now we are playing a slightly more forgiving schedule, and we’re a little more in control. … It’s also important that we continue to be the best version of ourselves … every weekend.”

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